Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell is as decorated as any player who has stepped onto a football field. Five Pro Bowls, four Super Bowl championships and three All-Pro first-team selections (one second team nod as well) are nothing to shake your head at. Mix in accomplishments such as retiring with 51 interceptions (an all-time high for his position at the time) and an induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, and Shell's football career was just short of a gold jacket in Canton to complete a career all football players dream of.
That wait is now over.
After waiting over two decades, Shell was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame class via the league's centennial class, a group of 15 members consisting of two coaches, three contributors and ten players from before the modern era. The class was announced via NFL Network's Good Morning Football program.
Undrafted out of South Carolina State, Shell was a pivotal and sometimes overlooked member of the infamous Steel Curtain defense. Playing from 1974-1987, Shell played over 200 games as a member of the Steelers, starting eleven full seasons for the team. Yet through all his accolades, Shell was overlooked for one reason or another.
“Obviously, he’s overdue,” Joe Greene told Joe Rutter of TribLive. “There are a lot of guys that get overlooked. That’s not a legitimate excuse, especially for Donnie.”
Fellow teammate and now Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, who was presented by Shell at his induction ceremony, offered a few choice words on Shell's behalf early in the process.
Now, Shell finds himself as the tenth players from Pittsburgh's 70's teams to head into the Hall of Fame, and joins former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher in the 2020 Hall of Fame class. With two Steelers already confirmed, two more could potentially join them, as Alan Faneca and Troy Polamalu were also named finalists as part of the modern-era group, which is expected to be announced on the weekend of Super Bowl LIV.
As for now, fans and fellow teammates will celebrate the induction of Shell. From undrafted to the Hall of Fame, Shell's football journey will end in Canton, OH, exactly as it should.